Ask a Question forum→Tomato Seedling stem narrowing

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
knarge
May 8, 2020 8:23 AM CST
My tomato seedlings were started in late February in a germination kit with a grow light. About a little over a month ago, I transplanted them, but unfortunately most of my plants have a problem: there is a narrowed/contracted, hard woody area on the stem about 1-2cm above the soil line. They also had a few leaves just pop off in the week or two after transplantation. Are my seedlings going to survive? This issue seems to share characteristics of damping off, though the plants are a bit older and otherwise appear relatively healthy, other than some mild purpling on the underside of the leaves (perhaps a consequence of overwatering?).

The problem is consistent across 3 different varieties of tomato plant, yet my pepper and tomatillo varieties are all fine.

Advice greatly appreciated.
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[Last edited by knarge - May 8, 2020 9:07 AM (+)]
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Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
May 8, 2020 8:39 AM CST
When you plant them outside, just plant them deeper and get that brown band of tissue on the stem in the ground. They do fine planted deeper. They will produce a deeper root system.
The purple coloring is from anthocyanin pigments that are ultimately responsible for the red in a red tomato! In more light as the seedlings develop, that pigment becomes a bit more intense. It does not come from over watering.
Damping off I am pretty sure comes from when the seed first germinates and emerges through the soil layer.
Tomatoes drop
Older leaves occasionally and like to grow moist but not soggy! If they dry out too much and for too long, leaf loss could occur.
Rodney Wilcox Jones, my idol!
Businessman, Orchid grower, hybridizer, lived to 107!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
May 8, 2020 10:25 AM CST
Its a fungal infection that acts like damping off. The purple leaves and stems and the fungal infection usually occur when plants are kept too cold. I'm not sure they will survive.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
knarge
May 9, 2020 10:17 AM CST
Thanks BigBill and Daisyl...

would it make sense to spray them with a very mild, gentle baking soda spray? The foliage looks really good the last couple of days, other than this stem issue.

As for the temperature, I do have a heating mat and have monitored their temperature/am pretty confident they've been sufficiently warm, so I am not sure what is responsible for the purple coloring.

Hopeful at least a couple will survive (I have 6 total).
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
May 9, 2020 10:27 AM CST
Baking soda is salt. You are trying to keep them alive.

I would do what BigBill said and plant them with the stem buried - maybe they will grow more roots before the rest of the stem dies.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
American Orchid Society Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
Image
BigBill
May 9, 2020 10:46 AM CST
Daisy made a good point in that I vaguely remember hearing or reading something about tomato's turning purplish in colder temperatures. Heck, when you turn 70 your brain is full and in order to cram more knowledge in there, something has to 'leak out'!
Rodney Wilcox Jones, my idol!
Businessman, Orchid grower, hybridizer, lived to 107!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
May 9, 2020 2:17 PM CST
Its a Phosphorus deficiency. Not a lack of phosphorus but, inaccessible to the plants because of low temperatures. Warm temperatures fix it right up.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org

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